First things first; get your earbuds [if you can] and plug into
It’s been 10 solid years since the song was released but time has got nothing on it. It remains not just one of Bad Gyal Riri’s most iconic songs, but should also be instructive and instrumental in any attempt to breakup with a cheating partner in a cold way that he will never forget.
A little context here: I was only just preparing to go into uni when this song [and the whole album] was released. I did not spare much thought for the content of it, or the import of its lyrics then. I just liked the song and enjoyed watching the video. I mean, what did I know at the time except play football and write cheesy poetry? [Not that I still don’t write cheesy poetry though.]
I think I may have a tiny little crush on Rihanna at the time too. [It was such a tweeny crush because Beyoncé was then the queen of my heart. Damn, how hard I crushed on Mama Blue back in the day!]
Ok, Ok, I digress too far. Back to Riri and her educative song on breaking up like a bad b**ch.
Earlier this week, while writing this piece on breakups, the song came back to my mind and armed with all the knowledge and information I have now gathered over the years in my personal life and in my role as a relationships commentator, it all made more sense to me, and right there and then I knew that I had to write about it.
Here’s why 'Take A Bow' is important, especially for women who have been cheated on, lied to, mistreated, taken for a jolly ride, taken for granted and flat out taken for a fool - it is the song you need to listen to when you feel too weak to do the needful act of cutting off of that guy leeching on you. It is the war cry you need when you need to throw away the whole of that bastard but can’t get yourself to. It provides the right energy needed to dispassionately tell a man to f**k off without flinching or budging when he begins to shed the manipulative tears he always sheds.
Listen to the song again and use the lyrics to re-imagine the scenario playing between the persona and her cheating partner in the song. When I do that, here’s what comes to mind:
Boy meets girl, waltzes into her life with all the charm and charisma imaginable. He sweeps her off her feet with smoking hot looks and the type of breathtaking sex that fries the brain and gets people thinking in an anticlockwise manner. He gets her stuck in love and has her woven all around his fingers like cheap weave.
As we have seen over and over again, it is at this point that he begins to wild out on her. He cheats, goes out with his guys and does all sorts of bad b**ches. She is at home waiting on him, being the little naïve girlfriend still brimming with love and heart eyes. As it so often happens in real life, the woman knows she’s being played but she can’t bring herself to leave him. He is probably the love of her life, her very first love. So for a long time, the pattern continues. He cheats, she overlooks and continues in her sad misery.
Rihanna’s ‘Take A Bow’ suggests all of the above and more but does not stop there. It is not just a song about the mistreatment and emotional abuse women often go through when they love wholeheartedly and with a reckless abandon. It is not one about being powerless to do anything about a man’s inability to see that. It is not one of the songs about being so good to a guy, building him, helping him, supporting him, being patient with him, all the while asking for nothing but to be loved just a fraction in return. It is not a song about realizing in the end that you won’t get the type of love you deserve and walking away with your tail between your legs and head bowed in disappointment. RiRi did one better.
The 2008 song does hint on the dirty games a man often plays on a woman who loves him wholeheartedly but then dwells on how she gets the last laugh by dumping him with such scathing sarcasm, and a sassiness that is made possible only when you finally realise how shady and dirty a guy is, how naïve you have been for letting him get away with his empty promises for far too long, and the strength you get from realizing that you deserve better than begging to be loved, and holding on to a man who wants to be out there wilding.
It is a song about the strength to walk away with swinging hips while leaving a sour taste in his mouth and feeling sorry for himself.
And that is why the song must be brought in perspective here in this conversation about how to dump a player and have the last laugh.
While it is cool to call his bluff immediately and save yourself the stress of listening to his cock-and-bull story once again, that wouldn't be as satisfying as letting him “look so dumb… standing outside [your] house,” trying to pull his emotional tricks again, all the while watching in disgust and laughing inside at how much of a sorry liar he is.
“…and the award for the best liar goes to you… for making me believe that you could be faithful to me.”
I reckon it would be fun to reenact that feeling of watching the guy do his thing without knowing that you already know the truth. He’ll cry as he always does.
“…you're so ugly when you cry (Please!)”
He’ll tell his friends to beg on his behalf as he always does. He’ll call his mum to call you, tell your friends to beg you… I reckon it’ll be fun to let him pull all the stops, to make him do all the stuff that manipulators do, all the things they say: “Talkin' bout "Girl, I love you you're the one" (Please)”
It should be fun to make him think you can be convinced as always. He’ll think it’s working because, as always, you are nodding and watching them weave more and more of the lies.
In the end, like Rihanna, you’ll just hit him with something as shockingly caustic as “how about a round of applause // standing ovation…”
He’ll probably not know what hit him before it’s too late. You would have swung your hips and walked away, leaving him in your wake, staring at he’ll be missing out on, the type of woman he may never find again.
Now that’s how to dump a player according to Rihanna’s 2008 manual of breakups.
Take A Bow.